Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr handed Samuel Kalu his first start of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in a 2-0 loss to Madagascar on Sunday evening despite concerns about the winger's health.
Kalu was a shadow of himself against Madagascar and had to make way for another Golden Boot Soccer Academy product Moses Simon in the 73rd minute.
Speaking to reporters in the mixed zone after yesterday's game, Kalu said: ''I am very happy today to start a game with the team, so I feel excited and hope to do our best in the Round of 16.
''I must say we did not believe this at all, it is a wake-up call to us, to be ready and sharp for the round of 16.''
The Super Eagles finished second in Group B and will discover their round of 16 opponents on July 2 after the final group matches are played in Group F.
Read more: AFCON 2019: How Super Eagles lost 2-0 to debutants Madagascar
Follow all of the action live on Futaa and download our AFCON 2019 app on Google Play for daily AFCON news, stats. betting tips, live scores and more at your fingertips.